Journal of Community Medicine & Health Education
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Background information: Drinking water contamination with hexavalent chromium (Cr6+) either by natural or anthropogenic
sources is an emerging global health problem. This issue got much impetus when Public Health Goal (PHG) proposed a maximum
contamination limit (MCL) as low as 0.02 ?g/l for Cr6+ against the current MCL for total chromium (50 ?g/l, WHO). At present, Cr 6+
is an unregulated chemical; therefore, its monitoring and regulation deserve special attention. Materials and Methods: Ahmadabad city
is the sixth largest city of India with a population more than 6.3 million. A general survey covering all the specified zones of Ahmedabad
was carried out to examine naturally occurring Cr6+ in drinking water, obtained from Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) and
personal bore water supply. A total number of 415 drinking water samples (AMC, N=125: personal bore water, N=290) were analyzed
for Cr6+ by ion chromatography employing US EPA method 218.6.
Results: A wide variation in the level of Cr6+ in drinking water was observed in bore water samples. The average value of Cr6+ was
registered to be 14.57 ?g/l (range 0.0 - 322.64 ?g/l) with a median value of 6.39 ?g/l. Cr6+ was not detected in about 19% of the bore well
water samples (detection limit 0.3 ppb). On the contrary, AMC water supply had a considerably lower level of Cr 6+ (average 3.58?g/l,
range 0.0 - 13.78 ?g/l, median 2.58 ?g/l) and it was not detected in 39.5% of the water samples. Seven bore water samples exceeded the
maximum prescribed limit of WHO (50 ?g/l). Relatively higher levels of Cr6+ in water samples were detected in the south and east zones
of the city associated with industrial area as compared to non-industrial area.
Discussion: Data obtained in the present study are several hundreds to thousands-fold high than the suggested PHG (0.02?g/l) level
of Cr 6+ as MCL. As the regulation of Cr6+ in drinking water is lacking at present, there have been great uncertainties of the risk
assessment due to Cr6+ exposure. The general population ingesting Cr6+-contaminated drinking water might be at risk for developing
chromium-induced health effects.
Conclusion: Cr6+ and its compounds are known carcinogens and need tight regulation. Data produced in this study might be useful for
establishing revised MCL for Cr6+, which is lacking at present.
Keywords: Hexavalent chromium, Cr6+, PHG, Ionchromatography, Drinking water
Syed Shakeel Ahmad Zaidi, Scientist E & Head, Department of Biochemistry, National Institute of Occupational Health, Meghaninagar,
Ahmedabad-380016, Gujarat, India.
Experience: Around 25 years experience in the related field. Dr. Syed Published 30 articles (14 national and 16 international).
Field of Specialization: Pesticides Biochemistry and toxicology, Residues analysis by GC, Metal and solvent toxicity, Endocrinology and reproductive
toxicity, Radio Immunoassay (RIA) for Hormones & neurotransmitters estimation, Ionchromatography (Dionex IC 2500) for trace and heavy metals
analysis. Current specialization: Metals/ pesticides toxicity and metabolism RIA, biochemical/pathological analysis, Ion-chromatography
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